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|The Woman in the Alcove||Anna Katharine Green|
II Anson Durand
|Page 3 of 9||
"Very good!" It was the inspector who spoke; I could not have uttered a word to save my life. "Perhaps you will now feel that you owe it to this young lady to add how you came to have these gloves in your possession?"
"Mrs. Fairbrother handed them to me."
"Handed them to you?"
"Yes, I hardly know why myself. She asked me to take care of them for her. I know that this must strike you as a very peculiar statement. It was my realization of the unfavorable effect it could not fail to produce upon those who beard it, which made me dread any interrogation on the subject. But I assure you it was as I say. She put the gloves into my hand while I was talking to her, saying they incommoded her."
"Well, I held them for a few minutes, then I put them in my pocket, but quite automatically, and without thinking very much about it. She was a woman accustomed to have her own way. People seldom questioned it, I judge."
Here the tension about my throat relaxed, and I opened my lips to speak. But the inspector, with a glance of some authority, forestalled me.
"Were the gloves open or rolled up when she offered them to you?"
"They were rolled up."
"Did you see her take them off?"
"And roll them up?"
"After which she passed them over to you?"
"Not immediately. She let them lie in her lap for a while."
"While you talked?"
Mr. Durand bowed.
"And looked at the diamond?"
Mr. Durand bowed for the second time.
"Had you ever seen so fine a diamond before?"
"Yet you deal in precious stones?"
"That is my business."
"And are regarded as a judge of them?"
"I have that reputation."
"Mr. Durand, would you know this diamond if you saw it?"
"I certainly should."
"The setting was an uncommon one, I hear."
"Quite an unusual one."
The inspector opened his hand.
"Is this the article?"
"Good God! Where--"
"Don't you know?"
"I do not."
The inspector eyed him gravely.
"Then I have a bit of news for you. It was hidden in the gloves you took from Mrs. Fairbrother. Miss Van Arsdale was present at their unrolling."
Do we live, move, breathe at certain moments? It hardly seems so. I know that I was conscious of but one sense, that of seeing; and of but one faculty, that of judgment. Would he flinch, break down, betray guilt, or simply show astonishment? I chose to believe it was the latter feeling only which informed his slowly whitening and disturbed features. Certainly it was all his words expressed, as his glances flew from the stone to the gloves, and back again to the inspector's face.
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|The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green
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